[UPDATE: Dubois has been dealt to the Winnipeg Jets for Patrik Laine.]
John Tortorella would not confirm if Pierre-Luc Dubois will be in the Blue Jackets’ starting lineup Saturday against the Lightning. The Columbus head coach said Friday that he is not planning to change how the team conducts its business despite the player’s pre-season trade request.
“We live and die on our team concept,” Tortorella said. “We live and die playing as a team, and if I don’t think someone is doing that and it continues… Last night he doesn’t get benched for one shift of last night. This has eroded and it just kept eroding in the first five games.”
After averaging 17 minutes a night through their first four games, Dubois was stapled to the Blue Jackets’ bench after playing just 3:55 Thursday against Tampa.
“I hold myself to a high standard,” Dubois said Friday. “I know what level I can play at. There’s not a lot right now that I am satisfied with. I know I can take a step up in every aspect. Whenever the next game is, I’ve got to step up my game. I acknowledge that. I know it and I’m ready.”
Dubois only has one goal through five games and said his tumultuous week will motivate him.
“It’s a thing that you’ve got to learn from,” he said. “It’s definitely something you don’t want to repeat. For it to not repeat itself you’ve got to be better. I mean, as hockey players you just want to be out there and help the team win and the fact that I couldn’t definitely motivates you to step up your game and get back to the level I know I can play at.”
No rush for the organization
Dubois signed a two-year, $10M extension last month, but news of the trade request came out soon after, putting this cloud over the team. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen is in no rush to make a deal, even as teams continue to call. The player may want out, but Kekalainen has to do what’s best for his roster — a roster that has surprised over the last few seasons.
Same goes for Tortorella. He’s clearly tired of being asked about Dubois’ request and would like the focus to go back to being on the team. Discussions have been had in the dressing room but the head coach is eager to see an improved effort from his young center until the situation is resolved.
“There’s no more meetings,” Tortorella said. “The rhetoric is done. You can have meetings to have meetings. Follow through. Rhetoric is rhetoric. Action are what I’m looking for.
“This isn’t just with [Dubois], it’s everybody and everybody understands that. As long as I’m here, I am not letting that slide because that is how we are able to stay and grow as a team here. We don’t have the superstars. It’s a small market. A lot of things come with this. But when you play as a team, and we have progressed the past three or four years in understanding that, then you start growing as a team. Not one g—— person is going to try to affect that and try to bring that down from that standard. I won’t allow it.”
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.